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Motor Neuron Sufferer in UK Given Computer Voice

Harry Potter author JK Rowling invests in motor neuron disease research center. Harry Potter author JK Rowling invests in motor neuron disease research center.

A 41-year-old father with motor neuron disease (MND), who is losing his ability to speak, will be given a computer voice with a British Yorkshire accent for the first time.

Jason Liversidge, from Scarborough in North Yorkshire, is part of a new project which gives MND sufferers technology with an accented voice.

Experts used recordings of Liversidge’s voice from a speech he gave at his sister’s wedding, plus those of Yorkshire men who have donated their voices, including Jason’s best friend, Phil White.

Donor voices were needed because Liversidge’s speech is already slurred.

The sufferer said he hopes the new computer-generated voice, which was developed at a center in Edinburgh funded by Harry Potter author JK Rowling, will enable him to keep communicating with his wife Liz and two children.

Speaking to British media, Liversidge added that the accented voice would allow him “to keep a form of identity”.

He said: “I just don’t want to be a programmed voice on a computer. But also for the kids and Liz, [I want them] to hear my voice rather [than] a computer one.”

Phillipa Rewaj, a speech and language therapist at the Anne Rowling Clinic, said: “Your voice is identifiable to other people as your face is. It’s very unique to you. So to be able to preserve that is really important for people.”

 

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